In south-west County Durham, I found a gem of a pub, The Countryman, in the village of Bolam.
A warm welcome awaits you on arrival, in very pleasant and comfortable surroundings. There are a good range of beers & ales on tap, though the main focus of my visit was to have an evening meal.
The menu itself features the usual pub favourites which are augmented by a number of dishes from around the world, for those with more adventurous tastes. The staff manage to maintain that delicate balance between being attentive, without becoming intrusive and the lady that took our order, Jan, knew the menu well, being able to describe a number of dishes in detail when questioned.
The food arrived quickly and was cooked to our specification, all offered at a reasonable price.
As more customers appeared, so did more staff to wait on the tables. A subtle, but very effective adjustment which to most customers went completely un-noticed. As it should. Having eaten our fill, the bill arrived shortly after being requested and we returned to the car in the amply sized car park to the front.
All in all, an effortless (on our part), pleasurable experience that we are destined to repeat in the not too distant future.
If you find yourself travelling on the A68, look out for the signs to Bolam and give them a try for yourself.
My only criticism is my usual one. No free Wi-Fi, though my phone did pick up a BT Fon hotspot. Country pubs could score so many points by providing open access to patrons.